Girls Education Stops Child Marriage
Girls education turns out to be far more important to the world than most people think. The World Bank recently declared that not educating girls affects population growth and costs the global economy $15 to $30 trillion.
Yes, the global economy! How more important than that can you get?
But to say not educating girls ‘affects population growth’ is an understatement. A woman in school 12 years will have four to five fewer children than a woman with little or no schooling (Brookings Institution).
Drawdown.org claims that Girls Education is just as important as Family Planning – they both have the capability of saving 59.6 gigatons of carbon emissions and thus both affect population growth equally. In fact, Drawdown says they are so intertwined, that they were grouped together to determine the impacts and then each assigned half.
In Africa, which is expected to double its population to 2.4 billion by 2050, the highest fertility rates and population growth are in remote areas, where people do not speak the national language, and health care is difficult to get.
Climate change is not the most compelling reason for girls education
But climate change is not the only – or even the best – reason to give girls education. Girls education will empower girls to break free of harmful patriarchal traditions, to have more control over their own lives and to have more control over their children’s futures.
Girls will need this empowerment to address the impacts of climate change.
And there is yet another reason for girls education . . .
The authorities are threatening to make some of the inhabitants leave the conservation area that they live in because there are too many cattle competing with wildlife.
There have been several droughts recently and there is not enough grassland to feed livestock. Getting land elsewhere is an expensive, if not impossible proposition.
Education will enable girls to handle changes to their lives and families that may come from having to leave their village and move to another area or even to an urban area.
Brookings also says that it will cost $39 billion, over what is already being spent, to educate all girls. That is a real bargain, compared to the cost of all the other alternatives to prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change. And compared to what is spent on wars.
We work on a project that educates pastoral girls in a remote area – the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) of Tanzania. The name of the project is Maasai Harmonial Development and Sustainability.
We first thought that the solution to their unsustainability problems was family planning . . .
Until we started the project, women would have to travel 70km to the nearest hospital to give birth, take a sick person for care, or – to get a family planning method. But women rarely got family planning because of the long distance to travel, and their husbands wouldn’t allow it, and they lacked sufficient knowledge about contraception.
When we equipped the local dispensary with vaccines and a delivery table and family planning equipment and supplies, and made a family planning video in the Maasai language, women showed up at the clinic.
Use of family planning methods nearly doubled from 28% to 52% between late 2016 to late 2017 due to improvement of health clinic supplies and equipment, health care classes, family planning videos, and acquisition of family planning methods.
The fact is, without an education, a child bride is ill-equipped to say ‘no’ to sex or to seek out contraception. Married girls rarely have access to contraception, or knowledge about it, because their husbands have too much influence over their lives.
So we turned to Girls Education . . .
We started by putting some girls into private English boarding schools, but that was too expensive to educate all girls. So we finally turned to building schools.
Roddenberry Prize for girls education . .
Recently we applied for the Roddenberry Prize – a grant of $250,000. If we win, we will use that money to build about 10 classrooms and provide health classes for several communities in the area. If we don’t win, we will find funds elsewhere.
But what has come out of the process of writing this grant is that we found the cost of educating one girl for a year is only $39! That is for preschool and primary school. And that figure is above what government supplies. For high school students it is only $119 a year.
Preschools near communities help advance girls education
We can do this by building preschool classrooms which teach Swahili near communities. This has dramatically increased the number of girls going into secondary school.
We use and enhance the public school system which is the least expensive alternative.
Only 10% of Tanzanians speak Swahili (the national language) as their native tongue. This barrier keeps most pastoral girls from entering secondary school.
When our partner organization built preschools near communities, children started learning Swahili prior to going to primary school.
In 2016 the pass rate from primary to secondary school at one school increased from 10% in 2011 to 67.5%, and in other villages it ranged from 58% to 79%.
Barriers to girls education . . .
We work to remove these barriers to girls education:
-There are not enough classrooms near communities.
-School is not affordable or important to parents. Only 50-60% of girls were going to school in early 2017.
-Many girls are now getting cut (FGC) by age 7-8, putting them on track for early marriage. The reason they are cut earlier because the government banned FGC and that resulted in parents cutting them earlier to avoid suspicion.
-Language is a barrier. Their native language is Maa. Primary schools are taught in Swahili. Secondary school is taught in English. Only a tiny percentage of girls in the project area have, until recently, made it into secondary school.
-Many girls are married early, effectively ending their education.
Increasing both the supply of and the demand for schools . .
We work by:
-Building government-run schools near communities,
-Building preschool classrooms staffed with volunteer teachers to promote early learning of Swahili.
And we motivate school attendance by:
-Providing school uniforms
-Providing health insurance
-Promoting and supporting public boarding schools where children are fed and girls are protected from getting pregnant
-Sending a few girls to private English boarding school to serve as role models to other girls and their parents
-Sponsoring a young woman in medical school so she can counsel girls, parents, and community against the perils of early marriage, early pregnancy, and FGC and promote the benefits of putting girls in school.
We gave the primary students uniforms in early 2017 and the head teacher said our students did better scholastically than the others and the girls did better than the boys.
Girls education: percentage of girls increased . .
The percentage of girls from Emburbul going to school rose from 38% in 2015 to 47% in 2016, 50% in 2017, and 82% in 2018, due to our emphasis on education and women’s empowerment, school uniforms and sending girl role models to English Boarding schools.
Girls Education: percent of child marriages decreased ..
In addition, the percent of married girls under age 18 in our area dropped from 55% in 2015 to 50% in 2016, 44% in 2017, and 31% in 2018.
The government built a preschool classroom in the village in late 2017; a partner organization* provided the desks and we supplied the girl role models.
The 54 preschool students who started in late 2017 mushroomed to 85, and then to 90 after preschool uniforms were provided.
Now another classroom is needed, and another teacher. A second volunteer teacher came forth and turned out to be a married woman: another role model for the girls.
Health education empowers women and girls . .
In addition, we provide health education which teaches men, women and adolescents:
-the importance of birth spacing
-that child bearing should end when a woman’s health is threatened
-that complications of from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death to girls ages 15-19.
Adolescents learn about reproduction, reproductive rights, avoiding pregnancy, and mutual respect between male and female.
The cost of girls education is lower than we ever imagined:
All the things we do adds up to only $39 per girl per year (over what government provides), averaged over a period of 20 years. For high school students it is only $119 a year.
Girls Education: Less Controversial . . .
And the good news is that, girls education is less controversial than family planning, which often has problems getting funded.
Girls Education and Climate Change . . . .
Africa will double in population to 2.4 billion by 2050, doubling Africa’s carbon emissions from 1314 gigatons (GT) in 2015 to 2600GT in 2050.
However, per capita carbon tripled in least developed countries 1960-2014 and India’s Increased 6-fold. Thus Africa’s emissions could reach 5200 – 10,440GT by 2050, compared to U.S. emissions of 5411GT in 2015.
Drought is a problem . . . .
In 1997, 2000, 2005, 2009, 2016, and 2017, drought led to low food supply in the project area. We had to buy maize for 305 women in 2017, taking away from our budget to educate girls.
Climate change can increase child marriages . .
30% to 40% of child marriages in Malawi are due to poverty caused by flooding and droughts due to climate change.
A combination of poverty and patriarchal tradition subjects girls to increasing climate change risks. 1.3 billion people in low- and middle-income countries live below the poverty line, and 70% are female.
Girls educated in boarding school leads to fewer child marriages . . .
When girls attend boarding schools, they are fed at government expense, lightening the burden of poverty that causes parents to marry off their daughter.
Education helps girls handle climate change impacts . .
Girls and women play an active and significant role in maintaining the survival of their families and communities in times of crisis and uncertainty.
With education, girls can add their voice, experience and solutions to assist their communities in times of drought or flooding. Educated girls are more likely to enact their future choices, find paid work and support their children’s education.
Girls education significantly lowers population growth . .
It is imperative that we quickly proceed to educate as many girls as possible by using the most cost-effective strategy.
* Our partner organization is Weston Turville Wells for Tanzania.
See Masai-Harmonial.org short link: http://wp.me/P7OZQs-15
- We are currently concentrating on girls education. Please check out our Education Sponsorship page. Donation opportunities range from $30 to $700, or more.